Swapping interfaces is nothing new in the world of storage array vendors, but it's not something you would normally associate with the network-attached storage (NAS) world. At least until now.
Network Appliance Inc., Sunnyvale, Calif., is providing open access to its Manage ONTAP suite of application programming interfaces (APIs). The Manage ONTAP API suite and Software Developers' Kit (SDK) are being offered free of charge to any company that wants to manage NetApp's filers with third party management tools.
The Manage ONTAP SDK includes multiple open interfaces including SNMP, NDMP, and Win32. Future versions of the SDK will also include CIM interfaces. Where appropriate the Manage ONTAP SDK includes documentation, code samples, and libraries to assist in the software development process. The APIs included in the SDK provide both C and Java bindings.
Mike Karp, Enterprise Management Associates Inc., Portsmouth, Mass., said it is high time NetApp opened up its management platform.
"It is a little late to the table in opening up the access to their machines late, but at last it's here and they're certainly a major player in NAS."
Karp said NetApp is trying to become manageable in any storage environment.
A key difference between API swaps and NetApp's approach is that most API exchanges are limited. Vendors share interfaces that let third parties manage certain functions of a storage array. Network Appliance is offering a complete set of its APIs to manage every function on their systems.
Bill North, International Data Corp., Framingham, Mass., said NetApp is different than the array vendors because they operate at the file level. "They are a filer, not an array, so they're managed a bit differently."
North said NetApp is a definite subscriber to the push for open standards. "They wanted to make all of the information to allow NetApp's filers and the storage behind the filers to be managed by the management tool makers."
North said other vendors can do all the things NetApp can do through the command line interface. "[Management of their machines] is literally open for the asking. There are no limitations on the functionality that you can access with your management tools," said North.
NetApp said more than 40 companies have already applied for the Advantage Developer Program. Early adopters of the Manage ONTAP APIs include storage management vendors such as AppIQ, BMC Software, Computer Associates, CreekPath, Fujitsu Softek, NuView, NTP, Storability, Tek-Tools, TeraCloud and Veritas.
The Advantage Developer Program offers additional support programs that provide technical assistance and development tools. The support program can provide developer-to-developer technical assistance direct from NetApp's engineers, according to the company. Companies that subscribe to an Advantage Developer support program gain access to Simulate ONTAP.
Narayan Venkat, senior product manager, Network Appliance, said NetApp is the only enterprise storage vendor to provide "open access" to storage and application management vendors.
"A number of storage vendors have signed elaborate API swapping agreements but these API swaps have stopped short of providing true open access," said Venkat. "We decided to give unfettered access to our APIs."
Venkat said customers now have the choice of using their desired management solution, whether it's from NetApp or a third party.
"As our footprint in enterprise environments has increased, we have had numerous requests from customers and [independent software vendors] to leverage the power of Data ONTAP to simplify data management in the context of the customers' business applications," he said. "In light of that we have decided to give provide full access to Data ONTAP through our Manage ONTAP API suite."
Nancy Marrone, Enterprise Storage Group Inc., Milford, Mass., said NetApp was reluctant to allow management agents for SRM applications to reside on their solutions in the past because they can interfere with the performance of the NAS.
"The storage management vendors are realizing that users what to manage their networked storage environments, which includes NAS, and obviously NetApp has the largest installed base of NAS, so users will demand that storage management solutions manage the NetApp products," Marrone said.
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